As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been feeling like I have to be more selective with the things I want to do and stopping myself from following my impulses. When I was younger, I had no inhibitions about uploading silly videos of myself onto the internet for the sake of sharing it with my friends and having a good laugh. Now? I have to consider all these things like, OMG, it’s going to be on the internet forever. How will this affect my professional career? Does it align with my current brand image? How will everybody think of me? Everybody’s going to judge me! And so what happens? I don’t let myself make spur-of-the-moment videos. I don’t let myself follow my intuition. I don’t let myself have any fun. But it’s all for a greater cause I say to myself. Because by not wasting time and energy on the inessential, I get to focus all my energy on one goal and be that much more effective.
This is a rather widely accepted notion. Famous quotes like, “Jack of all trades, master of none” seems to run quite rampant in the motivational quotes arena, but I think there is something missing here. There's this idea that it’s bad to have multiple interests. Because someone is a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, we make the false assumption that this is all he will ever be. We neglect the fact that this is precisely the path one takes when discovering mastery. Some people just take a little longer than others.
“All knowledge leads to self-knowledge.”
- Bruce Lee
The more you get to explore, try new things and follow your curiosity, the more you know and the more capable you are of being fully equipped and ready to tackle that one thing in life. But if you pigeonhole yourself too early on, you end up learning less about the world and less about yourself.
Energy has the capability of feeding back into itself, but when you don’t allow yourself to flow, that energy is never used. It is not recycled or redirected toward your ultimate goal; it is simply sitting there, holding you back, and growing stale.
Let it all flow. Keep everything in play. Don’t cut anything out. This is how you live a rich life, and this is how you maintain your momentum, progress, and growth.
“Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.”
- Albert Einstein
Your interests, impulses, and intuition manifest themselves in different forms. Energy can feed back into itself, get stronger, and eventually morph into something absolutely beautiful, but not if your energy is blocked.
If you look at how rivers form, they do not start as giant streams. They start as a collection of tiny segments – a master of none, if you may – but if you look closely you will find that these seemingly tiny streams start to build momentum. The flow becomes stronger, bigger, faster, all the way until they naturally find their way together, raging with power and becoming a force to be reckoned with. This is made possible because the individual streams explored other avenues and strengthened on their own. By following through with each individual path, the collective whole of the river is made stronger when they finally join forces. Your interests are not as disconnected as you think.
You need to trust that all your seemingly disconnected interests will lead you to somewhere great. If not, believe that it will at least make you a better person with every step you take. Don’t cut anything out because when you do, you are cutting yourself out.
I make fun little videos, and I do it because I get a lot of joy out of them. I also take design classes, swimming lessons, and even started taking voice lessons recently. They do not align perfectly with who I am as a professional. Some of you might even think it’s a waste of time. I admit that it’s very much a sidetrack to what I’ve become known for – photography. It’s random. It’s unedited. It’s raw. If anything, it’s much closer to the real me.
These seemingly random hobbies feed into each other. It doesn’t take anything away. In fact, it makes me feel more alive. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to learn to trust all the pieces in play and to let my interests take me where it will. I let myself be free. I believe that life has something far greater and brighter planned for me than anything I could ever imagine, but first I have to be open to it, and it starts by allowing myself to take these chances.
Stay curious. Keep looking. Keep changing. And let life flow through you.
by Jason Lam